Our Top Ten Tips for taking on the Mountain Ultra by Beyond the Ultimate

Join Kris King, Beyond the Ultimate's Race Director, for his top tips for the Mountain Ultra.

Est. reading time

5 minutes


Whether you’re a seasoned trail runner or accomplished climber eager to test your limits, the Mountain Ultra is a formidable challenge and the toughest in the Global Race Series. The Tian Shan are remote and hard to traverse. Your reward is the most spectacular mountain range on the planet.

1. Acclimatise

Pre-event acclimatisation is a crucial step in preparing for any race set in a high-altitude environment. It not only provides a strategic advantage in racing but also significantly reduces the potential risks of altitude sickness, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable experience overall. By gradually increasing exposure to elevation just before the race, your body can adapt to the reduced oxygen levels found at higher altitudes. This process facilitates essential physiological adjustments, including increased red blood cell production and improved oxygen utilisation, ultimately enhancing your body’s ability to perform optimally at high altitude. That’s precisely why we offer the three-day acclimatisation trek just before the race. Not only does it facilitate adaptation, but it also allows you to familiarise yourself with the terrain, connect with fellow competitors, and acquire new skills along the way. For those not attending the trek, we will inquire about your pre-event acclimatisation efforts, underscoring the importance of this particular tip in ensuring a successful race experience.

2. Master Your Gear: Your race equipment will be your lifeline amidst the elements. Ensure you know your kit inside out and they have been tested well in training. Staying dry is vital so do not underestimate the importance of your waterproof layers. 

3. Hydrate Wisely: At altitude, the demand on your body is high. Keep a constant supply of water and electrolytes to combat altitude sickness and dehydration. Sip regularly and monitor your hydration levels closely, especially as you ascend to the summits and high passes. Fill your bottle whenever you get the chance.  

4. Train for the climbs: Bit of an obvious one but the mountainous terrain demands strength and endurance, particularly on steep ascents and descents. Make sure you have your “hill legs”. Incorporate lots of vertical into your training to build the capacity for the performance needed. Focus on increasing your climbing capacity gradually to avoid injury and overtraining. Tracking your total weekly climb should allow for a slow increase until your peak weeks. 

5. Embrace the Elements: Mountain weather is unpredictable, ranging from scorching sun to chilling winds and sudden storms. Embrace the variability on offer during your training to adapt and thrive in any conditions you may face in the mountains during the race. Experience in all types of weather is going to be crucial when you need to make a key decision when tired and far from home. 

6. Fuel Up: Nutrition plays a crucial role in sustaining energy levels. Pack a diverse array of energy-rich foods.  Avoid monotony by incorporating a variety of flavours and textures to prevent palate fatigue. Eat little and often and have a mixture of real food and liquid calories to make sure you can get calories in even when tired and out for longer times than planned. 

7. Build Strength: Strengthen your body to withstand the difficult terrain you will pass through. Exercises targeting key muscle groups to enhance stability and reduce the risk of injuries well make you a well rounded athlete. Light Plyometric work will prepare your joints for the heavy descent work you will face each day

8. Prioritise Rest: Adequate rest and recovery are essential for peak performance in endurance events. Ensure you allocate sufficient time for restorative sleep and relaxation amidst the race’s demanding schedule. Utilise sleeping aids, test your sleeping bag and bring anything that will help you get extra minutes of sleep wherever possible. 

9. Gear Essentials: Choose your gear thoughtfully, prioritising durability, functionality, and weight efficiency. Invest in high-quality, weather-resistant equipment tailored to the demands of mountain running. Test your gear extensively during training to familiarise yourself with its features and performance. Three of the most important pieces of equipment you will take are your waterproofs, your bag and your shoes, spend your time researching and make sure you hit the mandatory requirement, you will not be allowed to race unless you do so. 

10. Unity in Community: The camaraderie among fellow participants will be a source of strength and motivation during challenging moments. We at BTU like to forge connections with you and your fellow runners. A buddy system will allow you to support each other through the highs and lows of the race, and draw from shared experience. 

Ready to take the next step? Click here to enter the 2024 or 2025 Mountain Ultra

See you in the Tian Shan

Kris King

About the Author

Kris King

For two decades, Kris has been an industry-leading mind on this grueling sport, having run ultra marathons, coached others to complete them, and designed some of the toughest races in the world.
Kris is the owner and director of Beyond the Ultimate, a company that organizes multi-day ultra marathons in some of the world's most breathtaking locations. He has been featured in numerous publications and has shared his expertise at conferences and events around the world.

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